Preventing and Responding to Disability Harassment - Information for Parents
The Katy Independent School District is committed to creating a safe and positive learning environment in which students and employees are aware of and sensitive to disability concerns and harassment. To achieve this goal, parents will need to discuss disability harassment with their children and encourage them to report it when they become aware of its occurrence.
What is disability harassment?
Disability harassment is a form of bullying and teasing specifically based on or because of a disability. This treatment creates a hostile environment by denying access to, participation in, or receipt of benefits, services or opportunities at a school (U.S. Department of Education, 2000).
Discriminatory behavior toward a student with a disability may be considered harassment when that disability-focused behavior is
sufficiently severe, pervasive or persistent so as to interfere with or limit the ability of the student to participate in or benefit from the District’s programs or activities.
Harassment is considered to have occurred when such conduct:
has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive academic environment,
has the purpose or effect of substantially or unreasonably interfering with a student’s academic performance, or
has an adverse impact on an individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from services, activities, or other opportunities offered by the District.
What are examples of disability harassment?
Discrimination and harassing behavior include, but are not limited to name-calling, physically threatening, harmful, or humiliating conduct; or nonverbal behavior such as gestures or written statements directed at an individual or group of individuals on the basis of disability.
According to the Office of Civil Rights, examples of disability harassment include:
Repeatedly subjecting a student to inappropriate physical restraint because of behaviors related to a disability.
Taunting or belittling a student with mental retardation by mocking and intimidating the student.
Repeatedly placing classroom furniture or other objects in the path of classmates who use wheelchairs, thereby impeding the classmates’ mobility.
Repeatedly denying a student with a disability access to lunch, field trips, assemblies, and extracurricular activities as punishment for taking time off from school for required services related to the student’s disability.
Several students continually making verbal comments to other students that the student with dyslexia is “retarded” or “deaf and dumb” and does not belong in class.
Who can report or fi le a complaint regarding alleged or observed disability harassment?
Any student, parent, or legal guardian who believes a student has been subjected to disability harassment by another student, teacher, administrator or other school personnel should report the incident(s) immediately to a school administrator, teacher or counselor.
What should a parent do if he/she witnesses disability harassment at school or a school-sponsored activity?
Discrimination and harassment affect everyone, not only the student experiencing the harassment. All members of the Katy community must work together to ensure a fair and respectful environment for all students. Parents, students, employees, and community members should become familiar with examples of disability harassment and report it when they become aware of its occurrence. Katy ISD encourages any individual who
witnesses disability harassment to report the situation to a teacher, administrator, or counselor immediately.
What actions should students with disabilities take if they believe they have been the target of disability harassment? Students should report any concerns related to disability harassment to a teacher, campus administrator, or counselor immediately. However, it is not necessary for students to label conduct as harassment in order to necessitate a response on the part of school employees. It is the nature of the conduct, rather than the label, that must be evaluated in meeting the District’s legal obligations.
To whom should a student or parent report harassment that occurs on a social media network outside of the school setting?
Katy ISD does not have jurisdiction over situations that occur in the community even though an incident may involve students. When harassment occurs in the community while students are waiting at a bus stop or walking to or from school, parents should contact local law enforcement for intervention. The same is true for harassment in technology-related communications such as emails, texting, Facebook messages, etc. that occur outside the school setting.
The District has jurisdiction over students:
During the regular school day, while going to and from school on District transportation, and at any time on District property;
While participating in or attending any school-related activity, regardless of time or location;
For any school-related misconduct, regardless of time or location, including retaliation against a school employee or interfering with a school-related activity;
For any mandatory expellable offense committed while on school property or while attending a school-sponsored or school-related activity of another district in Texas;
Who commit any offense, including off-campus felonies as provided by the Texas Education Code;
Who commit certain offenses on or within 300 feet of school property, as measured from any point on the school’s real property line.
What, if anything, can school personnel do when the harassment occurs outside of their jurisdiction?
There are some measures that the school can take to assist both the student who has been harmed by the harassment and the student who has been responsible for the harassment of others. School personnel can provide counseling to both students.
Other actions that can be taken to prevent the harassment from occurring within the school setting may include, but are not limited to:
Placing the student responsible for the harassment and the student who has been the target of the harassment in different classrooms and lunch periods, when possible.
Providing closer supervision of the student who has been the target of the harassment during passing periods and
unstructured time when the student is more likely to come into contact with the harasser.
By working together to prevent bullying and harassment, parents and educators can ensure that all students have an opportunity to learn in a supportive, caring, and safe environment.
Katy ISD also needs the assistance of parents and community members in order to address bullying and harassment that occurs outside the jurisdiction of the school. The community as a whole needs to send a clear message that bullying and harassment will not be tolerated.